tv C-SPAN Weekend CSPAN April 17, 2011 10:30am-1:00pm EDT
what our roles should be? and where should that debate originate? >> well, we've been through that many times before. but in the end it comes down to, well, who were the experts on what national security is and the threats? and there have been any number of independent commissions looking at exactly that subject what are the roles and what does it come down to? but in the end if there are three americans in danger somewhere in the world, we're going to send the u.s. military to protect them. there's no other way of doing it. and that's the burden that the u.s. faces. >> the reality, though, is that even within his caucu caulk thes extreme pressure to cut funds. there is enormous pressure. the democrats are not going to let defense spending cut without a defense on the table. will have to ante up something. what they're trying to do, it looks to me, the defense department and in the armed services committee is try to get ahead of the process as much as they can. we saw that with gates coming out with $78 billion in cuts that he's offering up, which is
a pit yens compared to what they're going need to do. but they're trying to shape this as best they can. but it's quite obvious events are overtaking them. they're sweating this. and within a couple of weeks' time, the congress cu cut $20 billion off the request for defense in fiscal 2011. and 2012 will have to completely be rewritten based on that. and there's going to be even more cuts there. so he's probably going to be overtaken by events at some point because his own caucus will have to demand these things. >> how central in where this debate goes? >> it's going to be difficult to have somebody with gates' influence over both democrats and republicans who's considered an independent voice that they listen to. it's going to be great trouble. in fact, that's one of the reasons that they haven't announced anybody right now. who is it that you can go to that will have that kind of sway. when you look at the list of names there isn't anybody that will be like that. it's going it be a political position. they will be stuck with a political job. >> the policy issues included
women in combat, gays in the military, and military readiness. let's start with gays in the military. are republicans in the house likely to revisit this issue in eye serious way? >> they're going to revisit it but they're probably going to lose. votes in theve the senate to get it through. it's not likely that they would have -- they don't have override vote either. they have to deal with the president on that, too. i really don't think this is going go anywhere i think it's more political, sort of thing they're doing to rile up their base a little bit. >> the amount of time that will happen with or without. >> and you asked about a new report about women in the military. what's the trajectory for that? >> it's interesting. there does seem to be some momentum building in the senate. senator levin who chairs the committee, hasn't yet said how he feels. he went through a battle in ban of gayse serving in the military. so that was very tough so they may not want to stay on a social issue this year. but there are lawmakers starting
to instigate for it, so you may end up seeing it of course, in the house, can you get that through the house? i doubt it. >> the chairman says the story of a funeral he went to when the company commander was the female and essentially said they're in harms way right now. what is the difference between where we are right now and officially allowing women in the military? >> the direct combat units, the ones that go out, kick down doors are in the middle of the fight. and they are not supposed to have women in them. women are in supporting jobs, administrative jobs, slightly behind that front line. for backup purposes, women are in combat today. and it doesn't make a difference it doesn't matter whether this report is approved or not that they're there and their role will only expand. >> so there isn't a need for a policy revision? >> well, i would not say that. there are combat roles where people are required to do enormous -- carry enormous loads and things like that now there's tohnologies coming across help bare loads and things like
that so whomever goes into these combat units would have to pass a certain type of physical. would have to do certain types of things. now, there were some very small guys when i went through the army who were able to do the work. would probably be women who would be able to dot work, too. but right now they do convoy protection. they're military police. they do those kinds of functions, and they are in combat. there a difference in pay? >> none. well zone, you do get special pay for combat. >> but all in the zone get it. that's it for our time. in our closing here, he erased concerns about military pay with the debate over the debt ceiling? >> no. >> secretary geithner wrote a letter, said very clearly if the debt ceiling is not raised one of the things of risk, military pay, veterans benefits, retirement pay because if we don't have ability to borrow money, we can't make payments.
there's a slush fund. they have some time. it might not be until june that they face it. but if the debt ceiling isn't raised and spending isn't cut, the u.s. has to stop spending money it doesn't have. >> remember what it is currently, like $1.3 trillion. so if you don't have the debt ceiling raised, you may not be able to pay your bills. >> thank you for being here this week. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> to be a parent means you're training the people you can't live without to live without you. >> his son's college admissions process. the s.a.t.'s, college rankings, guide books, financial aid forms. andrew ferguson was not prepared
for "crazy u." >> nothing like that had to me when i was thinking about college in the mid 1970's. so it was starting to dawn on me that this is a very much different process from what it was. >> find out as this dad catches up tonight on c-span's "q&a." you can also download a podcast of "q&a." it's one of our many signature interview programs available online at c-span.org/podcast. >> on wednesday, president obama vowed to reject portions of the house republican budget plan saying the bush era tax cuts for the wealthy would never be extended again during his presidency. he outlined a plan for reducing the federal deficit and national debt. it includes $4 trillion in deficit reductions in 12 years or less. the president spoke at george washington university before an audience that included members of the fiscal commission as well as house budget committee chairman paul ryan who also served on that commission. he's calling for negotiations
over long-term debt reductions to begin in may with a plan due in june. this is 45 minutes. >> ladies and gentlemen, the the united states. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. thank you, everybody. please. thank you. please have a seat. please have a seat, everyone. it is wonderful to be back at g.w. i want you to know that one of the reasons that i worked so hard with democrats and republicans to keep the government open was so that i could show up here today. i wanted to make sure that all you have had one more excuse to skip class. you're welcome. i want to give a special thanks to steven knapp, the president of g.w.
i just saw him. where is he? [applause] there he is. we've got a lot of distinguished guests here. a couple of people i want to acknowledge. first of all, my outstanding president joe biden is here. [applause] our secretary of the treasury, tim geithner is in the house. [applause] jack lu, the director of office management and budget. gene sperling, chair of the national economic council, is here. [applause] members of our bipartisan fiscal commission are here, including the two outstanding chairs, erskine bowles and allen simpson are here. [applause] and we have a number of members of congress here today. i'm grateful for all of you taking the time to attend.
what we've been debating here in washington over the last few weeks will affect the lives of the students here and families all across america in potentially profound ways. this debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page. from our first days as the nation, we have put our faith in premarkets and free enterprise as the engine of america's wealth and prosperity. any othercitizens of country, we are rugged
individuals. a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government. but there's always been another thread running through our history. a belief that we're all connected. and that there are some things we can only do together as a nation. we believe in the words of the first republican president, abraham lincoln, that true government -- we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. so we built a strong military to keep us secure and public schools and universities to educate our citizens. we've laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce. we've supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire
new industries. each of us has benefited from these investments, and we're a more prosperous country as a result. now, part of this american belief that we're all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security and dignity. we recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff may strike any one of us. there but for the grace of god go i, we say to ourselves. and so we contribute to programs like medicare and social security, which guarantee us and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work. unemployment insurance which protects us against unexpected
job loss. and medicaid which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, those with disabilities. we're a better country because of these commitments. i'll go further. we would not be a great country without those commitments. for much of the last century our nation found a way to afford these investments and priorities with the taxes paid by assistance. as a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally born a greater share of this burden than the middle class for those less fortunate. everybody pays, but the wealthier are born a little more. this is not because we be grudge those who have done well. we rightly celebrate their success. instead, it's a basis reflection of our belief that those who
benefited most from our way of life can afford to give back a little bit more. more over, this belief hasn't hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale. they continue to do better and better with each passing year. now, at certain times, particularly during war or recession, our nation has had to borrow money to pay for some of our priorities. and as most families understand a little credit card debt isn't going to hurt if it's temporary. but as far back as the 1980's, america started amassing debt at more alarming levels. and our leaders began to realize that a larger challenge was on the horizon. they knew that eventually the baby boom generation would retire, which meant a much bigger portion of our citizens would be relying on programs like medicare, social security,
and possibly medicaid. like parents with young children who know they have to start saving for the college years, america has to start borrowing less and saving more to prepare for the retirement of an entire generation. to meet this challenge our leaders came together three times during the 1990's to reduce our nation's deficit. three times. they forged historic agreements that required tough decisions made by the first president bush, then made by president clinton, by democratic congresses, and by a republican congress. all three agreements asked for shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. but they largely protected the middle class, they largely protected the commitment to seniors. they protectedded our key investments in our future.
as a result of these bipartisan efforts, america's finances were in great shape by the year 2000. we went from deficit to surplus. america was actually on track to becoming completely debt free. and we were prepared for the retirement of the baby boomers. but after democrats and republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990's, we lost our way in the decade that followed. we increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program. but we didn't pay for any of this new spending. instead we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid for tax cuts. tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country, tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year for the next decade.
to give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our nation's checkbook, consider this. in the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefits, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years. but that's not what happened. so by the time i took office, we once again found ourselves deeply in debt and unprepared for a baby boom retirement that is now starting to take place. i took office, our projected deficit annual was more than $1 trillion. on top of that, we faced a terrible financial crisis and a recession that like most recessions led us to temporarily borrow even more. in this case we took a series of emergency steps that saved millions of jobs, kept credit flowing, and provided working families extra money in their pockets. it was absolutely the right thing to do.
these steps were expensive and added to our deficits in the short term. so that's how our physical challenge was created. that's how we got here. and now that our economic recovery is gaining strength, democrats and republicans must come together and restore the fiscal responsibility that served us so well in the 1990's. we have to live within our means. we have to reduce our deficit. we have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt. and we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery, protects the investments we need to grow, creates jobs, and helps us win the future. now, before i get into how we achieve this goal, some of you, particularly the younger you don'te -- qualify, joe. [laughing] some of you might be wondering,
why is this so important? why does this matter to me? well, here's why. even after our economy recoveries, our government will still be on track to spend more money than it takes throughout this decade and beyond. that means we'll have to keep borrowing more from countries like china. that means more of your tax dollars each year will go towards paying off the interest on all the loans that we keep taking out. by the end of this decade, the interest that we owe on our debt could rise to nearly $1 trillion. think about that. that's the interest. just the interest payments. then as the bash boomers start -- baby berms start to rise in numbers and the health situation rise, the situations will get even worse. by 2025, the amount of tax we
will only be enough to finance our health care programs -- medicare and medicaid -- social security, and the interest we owe on our dealt. that's it. every other national priority -- education, transportation, even our national security -- will have to be paid for with borrowed money. now, ultimately all of this rising debt will cost us jobs and damage our economy. it will prevent us from making the investments we need to win the future. we won't be able to afford good schools, new research, or repair roads. all the things that create new jobs and businesses here in america. businesses will be less likely to invest and open shop in a country that seems unwilling or unable to balance its books. and if our creditors start worrying that we may be unable to pay back our vets that could
drive up interest rates for everybody who borrows money, making it harder for businesses to expand and hire, or families to take out a mortgage. here's the good news. doesn't have to be our future. that doesn't have to be the country that we leave our children. we can solve this problem. we came together as democrats and republicans to meet this challenge before. we can do it again. but that starts by being honest about what's causing our deficit. you see, most americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract. but like the stuff that it buys. most of us regardless of party affiliation believe we should have a strong military and
strong defense. most believe we should invest in medication and medical research. most believe we should protect social security and medicare. and without even looking at a poll, my finally honed political instincts tell me almost nobody believes they should be paying higher taxes. so because all of this spending is popular with both republicans and democrats alike and because nobody wants to pay higher taxes, politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse. you'll hear that phrase a lot. we just need to eliminate waste and abuse. the implication is tackling the deficit issue won't require tough choices. or politicians suggest that we somehow close our entire deficit by eliminating things like foreign aid, even though foreign aid makes up about 1% of our entire federal budget.
so here's the truth. around 2/3 of our budget, 2/3, is spent on medicare, medicaid, social security, and national security. 2/3. programs like unemployment insurance, student loans, veterans benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20%. what's left after interest on the debt is just 12% for everything else. that's 12% for all of our national priorities. education, clean energy, medical research, transportation, our national parks, food safety, keeping our air and water clean. you name it. all of that accounts for 12% of
our budget. now, up until now the debate near washington, the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in washington, have focused on that 12%. but cuts to that 12% alone won't solve the problem. so any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to on the table. and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget. a serious plan doesn't require to balance our budget overnight. in fact, economists think that with the economy just starting to grow again, we need a phased in approach. but it does require tough decisions and support from our leaders in both parties now. above all, it will require to us choose a vision of the america we want to see five years, 10
years, 20 years down the road. now to their credit, one vision has been presented and championed by republicans in the house of representatives. and embraced by several of their party's presidential candidates. it's a plan that aims to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years and one that addresses the challenge of medicare and medicaid in the years after that. these are both worthy goals. worthy goals for us to achieve. but the way this plan achieves those goals would lead to a fundamentally different america than the one we've known. certainly in my lifetime. in fact, i think it would be fundamentally different than what we've known throughout our history. a 70% cut in clean energy.
a 25% cut in education. a 30% cut in transportation. cuts in college pell grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year. that's the proposal. these aren't the kinds of cuts you make when you're trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. these aren't the kinds of cuts that the fiscal commission proposed. these are the kinds of cuts that tell us we can't afford the america that i believe in and i you believe in. i believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic. it's a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can't afford to fix them. if there are bright, young
americans that have the drive and will but not the money to go to college, we can't send them. go to china and you'll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities. korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science. they're scrambling to figure out how they put more money into education. brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline but on biofuels. and yet we are presented with a vision that says the american people, the united states of america, the greatest nation on earth, can't afford any of this. it's a vision that says america can't afford to keep the promise we've made to care for our seniors. it says that 10 years from now if you're a 65-year-old eligible for medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than would you today.
it says instead of guaranteed eliminate care, you will get a voucher. and if that voucher isn't worth enough to buy the insurance that's available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck. you're on your own. simply, it ends medicare as we know. it's a vision that says up to 50 million americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. who are these 50 million americans? many are somebody's grandparents. maybe one of yours. who wouldn't be able to afford nursing home care without medicaid. many are poor children. some are middle class families who have children with autism or down syndrome. some of these kids with
disabilities, the disabilities are so severe that they require 24-hour care. these are the americans we'd be telling to fend for themselves. and worst of all, this is a that says even though americans can't afford to invest in education at current levels or clean energy, even though we can't afford to maintain our on medicare and medicaid, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. think about that. in the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working americans actually declined. meanwhile, the top 1% saw their income rise by an. >> of more than a quarter million dollars each.
who needs to pay less taxes? they want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. that's not right. and it's not going to happen as long as i'm president. [applause] this vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the social come pact in america. ronald reagan's own budget director said there's nothing serious or courageous about this plan. there's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending $1 trillion
on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. and i don't think there's anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don't have any clout on capitol hill. that's not a vision of the america i know. the america i know is generous and we take responsibility for ourselves and each other. for the country we want and the future we share. we are the nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. we sent a generation to college on the gi bill and saved millions of seniors from poverty with social security and medicare. we have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives. this is who we are.
this is the america i know. we don't have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country. to meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. we will all need to make sacrifices. but we do not have to sacrifice the america we believe in. and as long as i'm president, we won't. today, i'm proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over twelve years. it's an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan fiscal commission i appointed last year, and builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction i already proposed in my 2012 budget. it's an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table, but one that protects the middle-class, our promise to seniors, and our investments
in the future. the first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week a step that will save us about $750 billion over twelve years. we will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs i care about, but i will not sacrifice the core investments we need to grow and create jobs. we'll invest in medical research and clean energy technology. we'll invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. we will invest in education and job training. we will do what we need to compete and we will win the future. the second step in our approach
is to find additional savings in our defense budget. as commander-in-chief, i have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and i will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or america's interests around the world. but as the chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral mullen, has said, the greatest long-term threat to america's national security is america's debt. just as we must find more savings in domestic programs, we must do the same in defense. over the last two years, secretary gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. i believe we can do that again. we need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but conduct
a fundamental review of america's missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world. i intend to work with secretary gates and the joint chiefs on this review, and i will make specific decisions about spending after it's complete. the third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. here, the difference with the house republican plan could not be clearer: their plan lowers the government's health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. our approach lowers the government's health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself. already, the reforms we passed in the health care law will reduce our deficit by $1 trillion. my approach would build on these reforms.
we will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments. we will cut spending on prescription drugs by using medicare's purchasing power to drive greater efficiency and speed generic brands of medicine onto the market. we will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from medicaid. we will change the way we pay for health care not by procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results. and we will slow the growth of medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need. now, we believe the reforms we've proposed to strengthen medicare and medicaid will enable us to keep these commitments to our citizens while saving us $500 billion by 2023, and an additional one trillion dollars in the decade
after that. and if we're wrong, and medicare costs rise faster than we expect, this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving medicare. but let me be absolutely clear: i will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. i will not allow medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. i will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. we will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this
country has kept for generations. that includes, by the way, our commitment to social security. while social security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that is growing older. as i said in the state of the union, both parties should work together now to strengthen social security for future generations. but we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities. without slashing benefits for future generations. and without subjecting americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market. the fourth step in our approach is to reduce spending in the tax code. in december, i agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest americans because it was the only way i could prevent a tax hike on middle-class americans.
but we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. and i refuse to renew them again. beyond that, the tax code is also loaded up with spending on things like itemized deductions. and while i agree with the goals of many of these deductions, like homeownership or charitable giving, we cannot ignore the fact that they provide millionaires an average tax break of $75,000 while doing nothing for the typical middle- class family that doesn't itemize. my budget calls for limiting itemized deductions for the wealthiest 2% of americans a reform that would reduce the deficit by $320 billion over ten years. but to reduce the deficit, i believe we should go further. that's why i'm calling on
congress to reform our individual tax code so that it is fair and simple so that the amount of taxes you pay isn't determined by what kind of accountant you can afford. i believe reform should protect the middle class, promote economic growth, and build on the fiscal commission's model of reducing tax expenditures so that there is enough savings to both lower rates and lower the deficit. and as i called for in the state of the union, we should reform our corporate tax code as well, to make our businesses and our economy more competitive. this is my approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next twelve years. it's an approach that achieves about $2 trillion in spending cuts across the budget. it will lower our interest payments on the debt by $1 trillion. it calls for tax reform to cut about $1 trillion in spending
from the tax code. and it achieves these goals while protecting the middle class, our commitment to seniors, and our investments in the future. in the coming years, if the recovery speeds up and our economy grows faster than our current projections, we can make even greater progress than i have pledged here. but just to hold washington and me accountable and make sure that the debt burden continues to decline, my plan includes a debt failsafe. if, by 2014, our debt is not projected to fall as a share of the economy or if congress has failed to act my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the
tax code. that should be an incentive for us to act boldly now, instead of kicking our problems further down the road. so this is our vision for america a vision where we live within our means while still investing in our future. where everyone makes sacrifices but no one bears all the burden. where we provide a basic measure of security for our citizens and rising opportunity for our children.
of course, there will be those who disagree with my approach. some will argue we shouldn't even consider raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest americans. it's just an article of faith for them. i say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more. i don't need another tax cut. warren buffett doesn't need another tax cut. not if we have to pay for it by making seniors pay more for medicare. or by cutting kids from head start. or by taking away college scholarships that i wouldn't be here without. that some of you wouldn't be here without. and i believe that most wealthy americans would agree with me. they want to give back to the country that's done so much for them. washington just hasn't asked them to.
others will say that we shouldn't even talk about cutting spending until the economy is fully recovered. i'm sympathetic to this view, which is one of the reasons i supported the payroll tax cuts we passed in december. it's also why we have to use a scalpel and not a machete to reduce the deficit so that we can keep making the investments that create jobs. but doing nothing on the deficit is just not an option. our debt has grown so large that we could do real damage to the economy if we don't begin a process now to get our fiscal house in order. finally, there are those who believe we shouldn't make any reforms to medicare, medicaid, or social security out of a fear that any talk of change to these programs will usher in the
sort of radical steps that house republicans have proposed. i understand these fears. but i guarantee that if we don't make any changes at all, we won't be able to keep our commitments to a retiring generation that will live longer and face higher health care costs than those who came before. indeed, to those in my own party, i say that if we truly believe in a progressive vision of our society, we have the obligation to prove that we can afford our commitments. if we believe that government can make a difference in people's lives, we have the obligation to prove that it works by making government smarter, leaner and more effective.
of course, there are those who will simply say that there's no way we can come together and agree on a solution to this challenge. they'll say the politics of this city are just too broken. that the choices are just too hard. that the parties are just too far apart. and after a few years in this job, i certainly have some sympathy for this view. but i also know that we've come together and met big challenges before. ronald reagan and tip o'neill came together to save social security for future generations. the first president bush and a democratic congress came together to reduce the deficit. president clinton and a republican congress battled each other ferociously and still found a way to balance the budget. in the last few months, both
parties have come together to pass historic tax relief and spending cuts. and i know there are republicans and democrats in congress who want to see a balanced approach to deficit reduction. i believe we can and must come together again. this morning, i met with democratic and republican leaders in congress to discuss the approach i laid out today. and in early may, the vice president will begin regular meetings with leaders in both parties with the aim of reaching a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit by the end of june. i don't expect the details in any final agreement to look exactly like the approach i laid out today.
i'm eager to hear other ideas from all ends of the political spectrum. and though i'm sure the criticism of what i've said here today will be fierce in some quarters, and my critique of the house republican approach has been strong, americans deserve and will demand that we all bridge our differences, and find common ground. this larger debate we're having, about the size and role of government, has been with us since our founding days. and during moments of great challenge and change, like the one we're living through now, the debate gets sharper and more vigorous. that's a good thing.
as a country that prizes both our individual freedom and our obligations to one another, this is one of the most important debates we can have. but no matter what we argue or where we stand, we've always held certain beliefs as americans. we believe that in order to preserve our own freedoms and pursue our own happiness, we can't just think about ourselves. we have to think about the country that made those liberties possible. we have to think about our fellow citizens with whom we share a community. and we have to think about what's required to preserve the american dream for future generations. this sense of responsibility to each other and to our country
this isn't a partisan feeling. it isn't a democratic or republican idea. it's patriotism. the other day i received a letter from a man in florida. he started off by telling me he didn't vote for me and he hasn't always agreed with me. but even though he's worried about our economy and the state of our politics, he said,"i still believe. i believe in that great country that my grandfather told me about. i believe that somewhere lost in this quagmire of petty bickering on every news station, the 'american dream' is still alivewe need to use our dollars here rebuilding, refurbishing and restoring all that our ancestors struggled to create and maintainwe as a
people must do this together, no matter the color of the state one comes from or the side of the aisle one might sit on. "i still believe as well. and i know that if we can come together, and uphold our responsibilities to one another and to this larger enterprise that is america, we will keep the dream of our founding alive in our time, and pass on to our children the country we believe in. thank you, god bless you, and may god bless the united states of america. [applause]
>> on thursday, some republican senators took to the floor to talk about the president's speech on debt reduction. this is about 30 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: yesterday president obama outline what had he is describing as a responsible approach to our nation's fiscal problems. and my initial response to that characterization that with all due respect, mr. president -- with all due respect -- the american people are not inclined to take advice on fiscal responsibility from an
administration whose unprecedented borrowing and spending has done so much to create a mess that we're in. after two years of adding trillions to the debt and ignoring our nation's looming fiscal nightmare, the president may be right in thinking that the politically expedient thing to do is to point the finger at others, but the truly responsible thing would be to admit that his own two-year experiment in big government has been an unmitigated disaster for the economy and itself a major, major driver of our debt, and that his -- his -- inaction on the latter is the primary reason others have been forced to step forward and offer meaningful solutions -- meaningful solutions -- of their own. and that's what most people already believe anyway. so the president's attempt to stake out the high ground in this debate was, i suspect, hard for many americans to swallow. despite the president's imaginative account of how we
arrived at the situation we're in, the american people are well past the point of believing that washington will be able to make good on all its promises if only we let the president and democrats raise taxes. americans know that we face a fiscal crisis not because we tax too little, but because we spend too much. they do not support the reckless washington spending that has left us with record deficits and debt and they will not support raising taxs to preserve an unsustainable status quo. besides, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have already rejected the kind of tax hike on small business that president obama endorsed again yesterday, so it was counterproductive for him to try to revive it. as for entitlements, the president rightly acknowledged that before we know it, the government will spend every dime it takes in just to cover the costs of medicare, medicaid, social social security and the
interest on our debt. what he didn't say is that the health care bill he signed last year takes more than $500 billion out of medicare to pay for an entirely new entitlement that could be just as unsustainable as medicare itself and which forces nearly 20 million more americans into a medicaid program which, as currently arranged, is bankrupting all of our states. so the president can claim to be a great defender of the social safety net. he may claim to stand for a nobler vision of america than those who disagree with him but the facts speak for themselves. when it comes to preserving the social safety net the president does not address those things that have caused our entitlement programs to be unsustainable in the first place. instead, the president would simply tinker around the edges and leave the hard work for others, passing the buck to future presidents.
and that just won't cut it anymore. americans are paying attention. they know the fiscal problems we face will not be solved by continuing the job-destroying policies that got us here. what's more, the centerpiece of the president's proposal, a tax hike on top earners, may sound appealing to those whose primary goal in this debate is to protect big government. but looking at the most recent data, the "wall street journal" points out this morning, this very morning, that even if we were to lay claim to every taxable dollar -- every taxable dollar -- of every single american who earns more than $100,000 a year, if we laid claim to every taxable dollar of every american who made over $100,000 a year, we still wouldn't raise enough to cover the $1.6 trillion deficit the president's budget gives us this year alone.
take all of the tax money from everybody in america who makes over $100,000 a year, take it all, mr. president, and you wouldn't cover the deficit for this year alone. ththththththay b to bring down e debt and to create the climate that will lead to good private-sector jobs and prosperity is not to repeat the policies of the past but to change them. and that means cutting washington spending, not squeezing family budgets even more. throughout the day today senators will have an opportunity to debate a down payment on those cuts for the rest of the current fiscal year, so i invite them to come to the floor to discuss that proposal. after that, we'll move on to even more far-reaching debate, not about billions but about trillions. that's the debate that will show americans exactly where their elected representatives stand on facing up to the fiscal challenges we face. republicans are looking forward to that debate.
and that brings me to a final point. yesterday the president said the debate we've been having in washington about the size and scope of government isn't about numbers on a page. it's about the kind of country we believe in. but he left out an important point, and that is this: that there are a great many people in washington and beyond who agree with him but who also believe in their core that the approach he's taken over the past two years represents the greatest single threat to the very future he envisions. america will not continue to be a great nation unless we are able to keep our promises to current and future generations and stop spending money we don't have. but the greatest obstacle to that future is not the everyday american who wants washington to balance its checkbook or those who look to where the president's policies have gotten us and map out a different path
to the future than he would. the greatest object sta dell we face is the -- the greatest obstacle we face is the crushing burden of our debt as the president now admits. unfortunately, the plan he outlined yesterday does not seriously address it. americans know the stakes in this debate. they know the reason we're in this situation. it's time the president and the democrats in congress acknowledge it as well. the debate has shifted. and while the president doesn't seem to see that quite yet, we will not solve our problems until he stops campaigning and joins us in a serious bipartisan effort to change not only his tone, but his direction. that's how we'll ensure that the future that he and we envision and want actually comes about. that's the only a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is
recognized. mr. sessions: mr. president, we, as a country, are in a very, very serious financial circumstance and we all know that we have to reduce spending. this year we will spen spend $3.7 trillion and -- excusee -- weill -- yes, spend $3.7 trillion but take in only $2.2 trillion, 40 cents of every dlar is borrowed. the president acknowledged a stunning development that under his budget that he submitted two months ago, something i've repeatedly talked about, in the tenth year, the amount of interest on our debt will be almost $1 trillion. this is fact. we are on an unsustainable course. as every witness has told us, you've got to do better. you cannot continue in this fashion any longer. the president's debt commission
chairman, mr. erskine bowles and senator alan simpson, former senator simpson, they have told us that we are facing the most predictable debt crisis in our history if we don't change, and they didn't say it's for our children and grandchildren. they said it could happen in two years. senator -- mr. bowles said earlier than two years, a little later. senator simpson said i think we could have a debt crisis in one year. so i don't know, hopefully this won't happen, but we've got to get spending under control. there are two ways to do it. one is to work really hard, do what we are paid to do, identify a less productive, less defensible spending programs and eliminate them and try to protect as much as we can the programs that are more productive and doing better good for america. our other way to do it, just sort of take everything across the board, just eliminate
everything on a same percentage basis and reduce spending that way. you could do either. i think most people would say we should eliminate the programs at are least defensible first before we have to reduce spending in programs that are more justified. and, of course, none of the proposals that have been made by congressman ryan in the house reduce spending for medicare, social security or medicaid. they reduce the growth in those spending programs, but they don't reduce spending for them. but regardless, how do we make the decision? i've heard the debate about planned parenthood and the moneys they get. i have not been particularly knowledgeable about it. serve as ranking member of the budget committee, so i know something about the debt crisis we are in. so the question is is planned parenthood a program that is
less defensie and ought to have its funding eliminated or reduced significantly so other programs that are more defensible don't have to be cut? i'm looking at the facts about the situation, and i find that planned parenthood has far more difficulty defendingts legitimacy as a federal recipient of millions of dollars than other institutions. this is a private group that sets about to do all kinds of things. one of the largest things it does is provide abortions, and it's an advocacy group. they have very strong agendas that a lot of the american people do not agree with, and why should we fund it? there are lots of other organizations out he all over america that do what they think to be good things that aren't
funded by the united states government. so let's just look at it a little bit. i was sort of surprised, actually. in 2009, the last year we have gotten the report, planned parenthood reported providing 332,278 abortions in the united states. i didn't know that. 332,000? this is the highest total ever recorded, and the 15th consecutive year that the number of abortions they have provided has increased. overall, though, abortions in the united states are going down. you see that sonogram and you see that unborn child and other things, whatever. the mood of the american people are getting a lot more uneasy about this idea of -- of life
and taking of unborn life. soverall, abortions have decreased, decreased by almost 25% in the past two decades nationwide. voluntarily been reduced by individual decisions by americans, yet during that same time, planned parenthood abortions have doubled. and planned parenthood consistently claims that abortions account for only 3% of their services. 97% is on other projects, they say, but yet in that same fact sheet that they make that assertion, they state that 12% -- that's more than one in ten -- of their health care patients receive an abortion. whoo, that's a surprise to me. think about that. they state that 12% -- that's
more than one in ten -- of their health care patients who come in to there receive an abortion. so what about the other solutions? aren't there other solutions to pregnancies that -- other than abortion? in 2009, their report indicates that planned parenthood made one adoption referral for every $340 abortions performed. they made a scant 977 adoption referrals compared to over 330,000 abortions. that's a decline of almost 60% from 2008. so this is a major change in what's going on at planned parenthood. in 2008, they did 60% more referrals when it made 2,400
adoption refrals. so i just say it appears that this is an advocacy organization that's commited to one solution for people struggling with prnancies, and i tell you, i've got a letter here -- i won't quote it, but i have a letter from a woman in alabama who had an abortion, who still feels pn about that and wrote me saying not to fund this. i just state that because my colleagues suggested only men would favor this kind of idea. and i tell you another thing that i did not know and was very surprised about, how much money this is. no wonder there a big brouhaha here because this is a lot of
mone congress is providing providing $363 million a year to planned parenthood. that's a lot. over ten years as we have been scoring everything here over a ten-year budget, that's about about $4 trillion -- $4 billion and quite a lot of money. a lot of people in the country feel strongly that okay, the supreme court has ruled on this. they've said what the constitution says. abortions under some circumstances are -- are -- cannot be prohibited under the preme court ruling, but they're saying the federal government doesn't have to pay for it, fund it, don't have to use my taxpayer money to do so, and so my colleagues say well, we agree with that principle and we're not funding abortions.
we're giving the money to planned parenthood, but they're not able to use it for abortions, but if 12% of their patients are obtaining abortions and they are getting getting $300 million, i think that's a ft. so i just would say i think it's a fact that the federal funding furthers their ability to grow and expand their lead as the number-one abortion provider in the country. so, mr. president, i think all in all, we don't have enough money to do a lot of good things. we have some people foreget, rural health clinics and urban health clinics that are funded and organized by the united states congress. we don't have to use money in this fashion to this private entity that has an agenda. i d't believe it's radical to say that this is one place that we could save money out of --
d a lot more. i don't think it's extreme. that's my best judgment, that if we don't have enough money, 40% of what we spend is borrowed, i don't want to borrow borrow $363 million this year to fund a program that we d't have the money for, and this is one that i think we could legitimately say does not have to have taxpayers' money and should be -- have its funding terminated. i also would support the resolution concerning the health care bill. it clearly is a piece of legislation that costs the taxpayers large sums of money, and it is not a piece of legislation that adds money to the treasury, as has been
suggested. the congressional budget office has written a letter to me that stated explicitly that the administration is doublecounting the money, and if they weren't doublecounting the money they took from medicare to fund this new program, that you would clearly have a -- the health care bill would be a clear drain on the economy. they have to use a gimmick of double accounting through an accounting process here to justify that, and it's not the right way to do it. it's the reason the country's going broke. so i would offer -- ask unanimous consent, mr. president, to revise and extend my remarks on both of these subjects and would -- mr.? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: you know, it's amazing to me to be lectured to and hear about how awful the tea party is and what the tea party represents from folks who have
never been to a tea party. you know, come on down to a tea party. bring your huey long rhetoric, a chicken in every pot, a windmill in every background -- a windmill in every back yard, bring it on down to the tea party, let's have a discussion. bring it out to the american public. we hear from those who want to lecture the tea party about cutting spending. who among these folks has voted against an appropriations bill? we haven't even seen an appropriations bill in this body in over a year, we didn't see a budget. we're spending $2 trillion we don't have, and they're here blaming it on the tea party. who's in charge here? it's not the tea party. blame it on us. give us an appropriations bill, give us our budget. do something constructive to fix the fiscal problems we have up here. they say that compromise is the ideal. they tell the tea party, you need to compromise.
but you know what the compromise is? they want to raise your taxes. the debt commission wants to raise your taxes. the president wants to raise your taxes. that's what they're talking about. the president yesterday said he's going to cut $4 trillion. well, try to read what's going on here. he said he was going to spend $46 trillion a month ago, his budget, before we've even had a discussion of his budget, he's going to cut $4 trillion off the $46 trillion he's going to spend. these are no cuts. we will spend more this year than we spent last year. forget about all the numbers, forget about all the baselineses, forget about 6, 30, or zero, which is what the c.b.o. scored this yesterday, forget all about it. ask your representative cht are we going to spend more this year than last year? if we're spending more this year than last year, that's not a
cut. ask your representatives, ask your senators. will the deficit be more this year than last year? the deficit will be bigger this year. we threatened to shut down government over nothing because we're not cutting spending in any serious way. they want to blame it on the tea party because in their secret caucus meetings they've done a poll that says, ah, the tea party could be thevill the vill. say the tea party has taken over the republican party. you know what the stay party believes in? good government. we believe in balancing the budget. we believe in reducing spending. we have plans to fix social security. we introduced a plan yesterday. if the other side is serious about fixing the entitlements, we have a plan. come to us and work with us. but don't just come down here and call us names. before you send anymore money to washington, ask your
representatives, are they spending your money wisely? $100 billion in the budget last year is unaccounted for. we don't know where it was spent or we think it was improperly spent. $100 billion. in our senatorial offices we get several million dollars. some of us want to be frugal with that and send some back to the treasury. we plan on sending several hundred thousand dollars back. but we want know where the money goes. we're still not certain. we've been asking for four months. some people say that money is kept in some fund for three years and then may go back. other people have told us the leadership spend that money. we don't have a definitive answer for even trying to save a couple hundred thousand dollars of your money that i have control over. now, the pentagon spends a lot of money. some people say, we can never cut any. but are they spending their money wisely? you don't know because we can't audit them. why can't we audit them? the pentagon tells us they are "too big to audit."
you heard about the companies saying they're too big to fail? the government tells you know, they're too big to be audited. we got a partial audit of the federal reserve. we got some information from that. guess what? we're now fighting a war against qadhafi. you know what we were doing last month? we were giving him money. we were giving him foreign aid -- not much, but we gave him some. twee also helped to bail out his national bank n these third world countries, the national bank is the piggy bank. half of it is probably spirited off to secret accounts in switzerland. but the u.s. taxpayer bailed out qadhafi's bank. now we're bombing it. the budget bill that we're talking about has now been scored by the c.b.o. and will cut almost nothing, maybe a couple hundred millions. it will increase defense spending by $8 billion and it will cut spending by $8 billion. the net is about zero. our deficit this year will be
bigger than last year. our overall spending will be bigger this year than last year. we are not yet serious in washington. we have not yet here recognized the severity, the enormity and the significance of how big this deficit is. this deficit is going to have serious repercussions. the chinese have bought over $1 trillion of 0 our debt. the japanese nearly $1 trillion. the japanese now have suffered an enormous national disaster. the question is will they continue to buy our debt? or can they continue to buy our debt? the other question is how long can a government continue to exist that spends more than it brings in? now on the other side they want to blame the tea party or the republicans or rich people. you know what? both parties are responsible. republicans, democrats, senators, congressmen, president. everyone umhere is responsible. it is not one party or the other. when republicans were in charge,
they rahn the deficit. now the democrats are in charge. the main difference? they're doing it feafort. but the republicans weren't doing a good job either during our time in power. we have to understand that the people can do things. not everything has to be done up here. the states can do things. we have to believe once again in the american dream. believing in the american dream is not standing here on the floor and castigating rich people. what's great about our country is that any among us, any of our kids, any among us could become rich people. work hard, go to school, achieve. we live in a mobile soavment that's what th -- we live in a mobile society. that's what the american dream is about. the european country was stifled by opportunity. the interesting thing is when they try to soak the rich, the huey long stuff, when they try this it's actually failing the american people because many of us believe that our kids could
gain great wealth or could grain great success. we still believe in the american dream. if they wnts to castigate that and want to say, forget about it what we need is just more government, they need to explain to people why they don't believe in capitalism, why they don't believe in the american dream, why they don't believe in the greatness of america. i still believe in america. i want to get government out of the way, but i think we cannot have an america that succeeds until we're able to do something about our debt crisis. i fear that no one here or very few up here on either side recognizes the severity and imminence of this problem, and my hope is that before a crisis occurs in our country, we will begin to seriously discuss balancing our budget, have plans to balance our budget, and
>> the former co-chairman the president's fiscal responsibility committee appeared with the president. >> it is a balanced plan that asks for shared sacrifice in order to provide shared opportunity for all americans. i am pleased today to have a erskine bowles and alan simpson, the chairs of my fiscal commission. it is the framework they developed. that helps to shape my attention on these issues. as they pointed out in their bipartisan effort, it is important that we put everything on the table. we have got to make some tough decisions when it comes to domestic spending. we have got to look at everything, including our
security spending, in order to achieve the goals that we need. it is important that we look at our tax code to find a way to work together to simplify and make the tax system fair and also use it as a tool to help us achieve our deficit target. it is also important that we cannot exempt anybody from these efforts. it is not appropriate for us to ask for sacrifices from eddie -- from everybody except for the 2% of americans who are doing best. we need everybody to participate to get our fiscal house in order. my main focus today is to thank them for their outstanding work and to listen to their ideas in
terms of how we move will work. no matter how we disagree between parties, no matter how much we spend time debating the issues, at some point we are going to have to come together as americans. yesterday, i brought together the leaders of both chambers from both parties to discuss with them how we can start moving rapidly. to get some of these major issues resolved. i am please that vice president joe biden will be heading up that effort. we will need the help of citizens who serve this country in extraordinary ways and are continuing to do so in their spare time. i am looking forward to having partners in order to get this done. >> following the meeting, the former commission co-chairman spoke to reporters outside the white house.
>> we had a productive meeting with the president. we had the economic council's chief of staff. he gave us a chance to talk about our ideas. he said he stepped forward with a plan that build on the recommendations we put forward. he came out with a solid, responsible plan. it does not have as much deficit reduction as quickly as we do, he does get to $4 trillion in deficit reduction. we believe now is the time for action. the era of death is a denial have to end. it is over. -- the era of deficit denial and has to end. we have brave, bold senators.
hopefully, they will be able to take these recommendations, the best part of each of them, and come up with a legislative language plan that we can vote on common act on, and do something serious about. we found it to be a constructive meeting. we are pleased. >> there are many good things in there. joe biden will be the point person. he has a remarkable political gifts. he can do things. he has the president's full accord. he discussed some of the things he would do. the next step is the key, as is the gang of 6. at some point, they will put out their plan. if anybody else wants to put in a plan, we suggest that they do so. that would be a wonderful thing. then we will mess around in all of the plans and see where there
is the best result. the figures of our commission and the white house, the gang of 6 are very close. we will look at them all and do what you do when you legislate, which is like making sausage. the important thing is that we have an action to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion. >> we bring down the deficit so that america can be competitive in the global economy. [inaudible] >> al and i incur risk him to go earlier. we were probably wrong in what -- al and i encouraged him to go earlier.
[inaudible] >> i am much more worried about the substance that i am the tone. the substance was fine. that is where i will stick with my comments. [inaudible] >> i do not think anybody has a crystal ball. we have a framework set up. every single plan -- we are talking about $4 trillion in deficit-reduction. we have to take the best ideas out of all plans and get to real action. [inaudible] >> having spent 18 years here and watching people set dates, it is a lost cause. you can say by this day we will
be there. it is impossible to say. if you give a number, it is not worth it. we have a big problem. the president knows it. paul ryan knows it. the gang of 6 know it. the american people know it. when i travel the country, i say that i have two things to say to you. if you spend a dollar and borrow 40 cents of it, you have got to be stupid. if anybody believes a government can spend a dollar and borrow 40 cents -- [inaudible]
>> on friday, the house of representatives approved the 2012 budget plan offered by paul ryan. that vote came following a series of votes with amendments, including one proposal supported by a group of conservative republicans. now the floor debate on the paul ryan budget bill. some spectators caused a disruption in the gallery and were arrested by capitol police. nine people were arrested in the gallery and three more outside. this is about 50 minutes. an is recognized. mr. mccarthy: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to first start by thanking the chairman of the
budget committee, mr. ryan, and the entire budget staff and mbers on the house side. >> mr. chairman, the house is not in order. the chair: the gentleman is correct. conversations please cease, clear the aisles, bring your conversations to the cloakroom. the gentleman from california. mr. mccarthy: i'd also like to thank the democrat members on the budget committee as well. what we are taking up today is the point of where this country goes. because this debate has taken on for quite sometime there is not one person that's not watched the news and watch the clock of our debt, $14 trillion. i want you all to imagine for one moment, just imagine for one moment what the country
would hold in the dream if that clock was zero. what could we invest in? what could we build and what would our children become? but because that clock does not say zero and that clock coinues to climb in the wrong direction, that's why we are here today. but it is a good today because today is the day that we turn that clock back around. we have a plan and a path to prosperity that will create jobs even those on the outside they said would be more than one million jobs. a plan that will make us energy independent, but a plan that does something that the rest of america has to do, tightening our belts. so today when we come and have to put our cards in the voting card, i want you to think of one thing, today could be the day that we create the great america comeback.
or it could be the day where america goes to the long fade into history. but the floor is made of up a micros could much of america and the -- microcosm of america and america knows we have to control this situation we're in. so today a yes vote is for jobs, for energy independence and a new path to prosperity and i yield back. the chair: the chair notes a disturbance in the gallery which is in contra invention of the laws and rules of the house. the sergeant at arms will remove those persons responsible for the disturbance and restore order to the gallery. the house will be in order. the house will be in order. the chair recognizes the
gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. we are turning back the clock. we're turning back the clock on progress and we're turning back the clock on -- the chair: the chair notes a disturbance in the gallery in contravention with the rules of the house. the sergeant at arms will remove the persons responsible for the disturbance and restore order. the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. the chair: the house will be in order. the committee will be in order. the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. what the republican budget does is turn back the clock on a fair
deal for the american people. every person in this body today loves this great nation of ours and believes it's a special place. we have to maintain the exceptionalism of this country. we see different paths and make different choices to accomplish that goal. the chair: the chair notes a disturbance in the gallery in contravention of the law and rules of the house. the sergeant at arms will remove those persons responsible for the disturbance and restore order to the gallery. the gentleman from illinois state his point of order. >> mr. speaker, my question is about the chairfication of the rules. mr. jackson: the rules also for
our isitsing guests aow the sergeant at arms to clear the chamber if necessary. is that correct, mr. speaker? the chair: it is within the authority of the chair to clear the gallery. mr. jackson: i thank the speaker. i would just encourage those to continue the civil conversation we're having about a very difficult conversation in our country. thank you, mr. speaker. the chair: the gentleman from maryland is recognized. . van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. if i -- mr. jackson: point of order, mr. speaker. the chair: the chair notes a disturbance in the gallery in contravention of the laws and rules of the house. the sergeant of arms will remove those and resre order and would remind all those that are listening that the chair has the authority to clear the gallery. the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: mr. chairman, may i inquire as to how much
time remains? very seriously, mr. chairman, if -- the chair: the gtleman from maryland has 9 1/2 minutes. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. we all agree, we all agree we have to act now to put in place plan to reduce our deficits -- mr. chairman, point of order. the chair: the chair notes a disturbance in the gallery in contravention of the laws and rules of the house. the sergeant at arms will remove those responsible and restore order in the gallery. the committee will be in order. committee will be in order.
seeing none, the gentleman may proceed. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. i thank my colleagues. as i said, nobody doubts that every person in this chamber loves this country and wants to do the right thing. the chair: the chair notes a disturbance in the gallery in contravention of the laws and rules of the house. the sergeant at arms will restore order to the gallery. e committee will be in order.
the chair: the committee will come to order. the chair recognizes the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. i'm tempted to reserve my time and yield it back to the other -- the chair: the chair notes a disturbance in the gallery in contravention of the laws and rules of the house. the sergeant of arms will remove those persons responsible for the disturbance and restore order to the gallery. the chair makes this
announcement for purposes of possible prosecution. the gentleman from maryland may proceed. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. as i sd, i was tempted to reserve my time and allow my colleague to proceed but as i understand that the chamber is now quiet, let me begin where i left off. and say that all of us agree, nerve this tchame chamber agrees -- chamber agrees we need to put in place a plan to reduce our deficit in a predictable steady manner. the question throughout this debate has been not whether but how we do that. and as the bipartisan fiscal commission has indicated, any responsible effort requires a
balanced approach. and the republican plan simply fails on that score. and that's what the co-chairs of the bipartisan fiscal commission said. they said it, quote, falls short of the balanced, comprehensive approach needed for a responsible plan. and when you peel off the layers, what you find is the republican plan is not bold. it's just e same old tired formula we've seen before, providing big tax breaks to the very wealthy and powerful special interests at the expense of the rest of america, except this time it's dressed up with lot of sweet-sounding talk of reform. but at the end it's the same old ideological agenda except thi time on steroids. to govern is to choose. each of us is sent here to make difficult choices. and the choices that are made in
the republican plan, we believe, are wrong for america. we do not believe it's courageous to protect tax giveaways to big oil companies and other special interests when we're slashing investments in our kids' education, scientific research and critical investments in the future. we don't think it's bold to provide another, another tax break to millionaires while ending the medicare guarantee for seniors and sticking seniors with the bill for ever-rising health care costs. we do not believe it'sisionary to reward corporations that ship american jobs rather than american products overseas while we're terminating affordable health care for tens of millions of americans right here at home. and we don't think it's brave to give governors a blank check of
federal taxpayer dollars and then a license to cut support for seniors in nursing homes, individuals withisabilities and poor kids. and we don't think it's fair to raise taxes on middle income amerins to pay r additional tax breaks for the folks at the very top. yet those are e choices that are made in the republican budget. where is the shared sacrifice? we have american men and women putting their lives on the line in iraq, in afghanistan, while others hide their income in the cayman islands, in switzerland, and refuse to pay their fair share tsupport our national efforts. and that is why the bipartisan commission, among other reasons, said that the republican plan is just not balanced.
it'not. let's say no to the republican plan, let's say yes to finding a balanceday to reduce our deficits in a way that protects the values and priorities of the american people and in a way that gets our economy moving and america back to work. with that i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. ryan: mr. chairman, at this time i'd like to yield two minutes to the distinguished chairman of the house republican conference, the gentleman from texas, mr. hensarling. the chair: the gentleman from texas is recognized for two minutes. mr. hensarling: mr. chairman, earlier this week "usa today" reported that we have the fewest participants in our work force than at any time in 30 years, and my democratic colleagues announce their plan to increase taxes $1.5 trillion on our economy, much of it on our small businesses. the congressional budget office has announced that medicare is
going broke in 2020, and my demoatic colleagues announce their plan to double down on the rationing of health care for our seniors. e congressional budget office -- the chair: the chair notes a disturbance in the gallery in contravenges of the rules of the house. the sergeant at arms will restore order to the gallery. the gentleman may proceed. mr. hensarling: mr. chairman, the congressional budget office has announced that social security will go broke in 2037, and my democratic colleagues have announced this is not a problem, we're ready to implement the 22% benefit cut that's already in our statute. survey after survey show that our fellow citens believe that their children, their childr will be worse off than they are, and yet my democrat
colleagues announce their plan to add $9.1 trillion to the national debt. mr. chairman, it's time to quit spending money we don't have. it's time to quit borrowing 42 cents on the dollar, much of it from the chinese, and then send the bill to our children and grandchildren. the republican budget will help us create jobs with fundamental tax reform in preventing these tax increases. it will save our social safety net programs, programs that have been of a great cfort to my parents and grandparen before our eyes are morphing into ponzi schemes for their third grade daughter and first grade son. mr. chairman, the republican budget will put us on the path to pay off the national debt. mr. chairman, i heard from one of my constituents recently. he said i have never been ashamed of anything i ha done
in my life except leaving this in the hands of my kids. i written them a heart felt apology when they get old enough to understand what the government did to them. mr. chairman, i have a message for mr. calhoun. put that letter away. house republicans are going to stand for tyler and caitlin. we are going to put america back to work. we're going to save the social safety net and preserve the american dream for ourselves and our prosperity. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. it's hard to see how someone would define saving the social safety net by ending the medicare guarantee for seniors, by slashing medicaid by over $750 billion, a program that disproportionately helps
seniors in nursing hos and disabled individuals. it really hard to understand that is preserving the social safety net. it reminds me of that trange statement we once heard tt you have to destroy the village in ord to save it. now, let's understand what happens under this budget to medicare. this budget ends the medicare guarantee for seniors. it doesn't reform medicare. it deformsnd dismantles it because it forces seniors off of the medicare program into the private insurance market. and it does nothing as it dumps the seniors into the private insurance market to control the rate of increase in health care costs. and instead it transfers to the seniors all those risks and all those costs. seniors will pay a lot more while the insurance companies will get all their medicare
payroll taxes, they'll get a bonanza out of this thing but seniors will be left holding the bag. if your voucher amount -- call it whatever you want -- is not sufficient to pay for the increased cost, you eat it. and we saw earlier the fact that by the year 2022 seniors will have to pay more than $6,000 above what they would have had to pay under the regular medicare program. if your doctor's not on a private plan that you could avoid, tough luck. this is rationing health care by income, nothing more, and i want to say something just to clear the record one more me. we keep hearing that they're offering seniors exactly what members of congress get. it simply is not true. what members of congress get is what's called a fair share deal. i encourage my colleagues on all sides of the aisle just to
look at the federal employees benefit plan and you look in the office of personnel that says this formula is known as the fair share formula because it will maintain a consistent level of government contributions as a percentage of program costs regardless of what plan the enrollees elect. and it says that the government ontribution equals the lesser of 72% of the amounts o.p.m. determines programwide or 75%. the fact is that members of congress get a fair share formula. the republican budget does not give a fair share formula to seniors on medicare. it just doesn't. in fact, the way it saves money is to give them an unfair deal. it unconnects the support we give to seniors from rising health care costs. that's why seniors will end up
paying so much more and more and more because you make the savings. health care costs are going up like this and the support, if you want to call it support, it is really not, coming from the medicare program from the fedal government, is going like this. that's why the seniors are having to eat those additional costs. that's what the republican budget does at the same time they do provide additional tax breaks for the very folks -- the folks at the very top. and if you want to get rid of some of the junk in the tax code you can support the democratic plan because we got rid of subsidies for the oil companies, we got rid of those perverse tax incentives to reward corporations that are shipping american jobs instead of american products overseas. if you want to start with tax reform, vote for the democratic plan. those are the choices we made, not ending the medicare guaraee. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his
time. the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. ryan: mr. chairman, at this time i'd like to yield one minute to the distinguished majority leader, mr. cantor. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. cantor: i thank the chairman, and i want to thank the gentleman from wconsin, mr. ryan, for his outstanding leadership and all the hard work he's shown in leading this effort to p together a budget for this house. i also want to commend the hard work of his members and the committee for bringing this forward. mr. chairman, the federal government is broke. we borrow nearly 40 centof everdollar we spend. our debt is more than$14 trillion, and it's averang yearly to trillion-dollar deficits. we simple -- simply cannot afford spending the money we don't have and wmust simply
bring down the debt. now, for years this house, including legislators on both sides of the aisle, has kicked the can down the road. americans were led to believe that we could spe hundreds of billions of dollars that we don't have and that there wuld be no consequences. and when it came to fostering an environment where american business could compete in the global economy, we became complacent. this must stop. it's time to be honest with the american people. mr. chairman, we stand at a crossroads. before us lies two different paths. one defined by crushing debt, slow growth and diminished opportunity, and one defined by achievement, innovation and american leadership. mr. chairman, the house is not in order. the chair: the gentleman is correct.
the committee is not in order. conversations will be suspended. the gentleman may proceed. mr. cantor: thank you, mr. chairman. by demonstrating courage and directly confronting our challenge at this critical moment, we can fulfill the promise of america and pass on to our children a nation that offers everyone a fair shot at earning their success. the house republican budget is an honest, fact-based proposal that details our vision for managing down our debt and growing our way back to prosperity. first, we will stop spending money that we don't have. this budget cuts nonsecurity discretionary speing to below 2008 levels and freezes it for five minutes. overall, we reach $6.2 trillion inavings against the president's budget.
second, we'll lead where the president has failed by finally addressing our insolvent entitlement programs. we know that these programs are the biggest drivers of our debt and the congressional budget office acknowledges that if we don't take action these important safety net programs will go broke. we cannot afford to ignore these -- this oncoming fiscal train wreck any longer. while it may be seen by some as politically risky, we republicans are willing to lead because, to be frank, complacency is not an option. to be clear, our plan will not touch benefits for today's seniors and those nearing retirement. for those of us 54 and below it calls for reforms that will restructure medicare and medicaid to ensure that these safety nets will still be there
for those who need it, not for those who don't. unlike the lofty outline the president gave in his speech this week, r budget is not a political document. we do not dream up imaginary savings and dodge specifics. in aneffort to lull people into the belief that they can actually get things for nothing. our budget is a concrete plan for getting our fiscal house in order, and we do not resort to tax increases on the very small businesses and job creators we need to put america back to work. bringing down the debt sends a message to american families. it sends a message to business men and women, to entrepreneurs and to investors. it gives them the confidence that they won't face a future plagued by inflation, higher taxes and higher interest
rates. we understand that cutting spending alone is not enough. that's why our budget calls for pro-growth policies to get our economy growing and to get people back to work. families and small business people are struggling, and today, tax day, millions of them will send thr hard-earned mey to uncle sam. the last thing we should be asking them to do is to send yet again more. instead, our budget calls for a more competitive tax system that will encourage the economy to grow, create jobs and spur investment in the private sector. we call for the end of crony capitalism that allows privileged industries gain competitive advantage in our tax code, and we call for a more simple system that lowers ratesor all but make sure that everyone pays their fair
share. mr. chairman, with this budget use republicans are changing the culture in washington from one of spending to one of savings. finally, mr. chairman, america will see that it can get its fiscal house in order after years of mismanagement. we are finally doing what families and small business people have been doing f years, tightening the belts and learning how to do more with less. again, mr. chairman, i thank chairman ryan and his committee for their outstanding leadership, and i urge my colleagues to support this resolution. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves his time. the gtleman from wisconsin. mr. ryan: may i inquire of the gentleman from maryland, he has
just minimum self? mr. van hollen: we have another speaker. mr. ryan: ok. at this time, mr. chairman, i'd like to -- mr. van hollen: we have another speaker -- one more in addition to myself. mr. ryan: why don't you take one then? mr. van hollen: how many -- mr. ryan: we have the right to close. and we have just two more speakers on our side. how many do you have? mr. van hollen: we have two more. mr. ryan: all right. you'll do two together then. ok. at this time, mr. chairman ucks i'd like to yield one minute to the speaker of the house, mr. boehner. the chair: the speaker is recognized. the speaker: i'm glad we got that resolved. the american people understand that we can't continue to spend money that we don't have. our national debt has now surpassed $14.2 trillion. it's on a track to eclipse the entire size of our economy. and this massive debt that we're
incurring hurts private sector job creation, eroding confidence, spreading uncertain amongst employers big and small, discouraging private investment in our enomy that is sorely needed in order for us to create jobs. this debt is also a moral threat to our country. in my opinion it is immoral to rob our children and grandchildren future and leave them beholden to countries around the world who buy our debt. we have a moral obligation to speak the truth and to do something about it. yesterday we took the first step in beginning to address this massive debt by passing legislation that would reduce our deficit by $315 billion over the next 10 years. it was an imperfect bill, but it was a positive step that has cleared the decks a allowed to us cus on cutting trillions of
dollars, not just billions. and chairman ryan and the members of the budget committee have done an excellent job of putting together a budget that's worthy of the american people. this budget will help job creation today, lift the crushing burden of debt that threatens our children's future and preserve and protect programs like medicare and medicaid. and most importantly the budget shows families and small businesses that were serious about dealing with america's spending illness so we can put our country on a path to prosperity. the ryan budget sets the bar for the debate going forward. president obama had an opportunity to match it. unfortunately he gave a partisan speech about the need for more spending, more taxing and more borrowing. he said he must -- he wants to target our debt problem through a so-called debt failsafe. but exempts the major
entitlement programs that account for most of the long-term debt problems. and he proposed yet another commission, though he ignored the recommendationsf this last one. instead of offering serious solutions, the president asked congress to raise the debt limit without addressing washington's spending problem. the president wants a clean bill. and the american people will not tolerate it. now, let me be clear. there will be no debt limit increaseunless it's accompanied by serious spending cuts and real budget reform. we delivered this message on wednesday morning to the president and we cannot continue to borrow recklessly and dig ourselves a deeper hole and ortgage the future of our children and grandchildren. the american people are looking for leadership to address this
debt crisis. and unfortunatelthe president has failed to put a serious proposal on the table. and if e president won't lead, we will. no more kicking the can down the road, no more whistling past the graveyard. now is the time to address the serious challenges that face the american people. and we will. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. chairman. i would point out that even if we adopt the republican budget, we're going to have to lift the debt ceiling for years and years to come. so let's not play russian roulette with the economy and the full faith and credit of the united states government. on the question of jobs, the question of jobs, during the clinton administration we asked the very wealthiest for a little bit more sacrifice than they have today and you know what happened to jobs?
20 million jobs were created during the administration, clinton administration. under the current tax rates, after eight years of george bush, private sector lost 630,000 jobs. mr. chairman, can i inquire how much time i have remaining? the chair: the gentleman has 1 1/2 minutes remaining. mr. van hollen: i yield myself 30 seconds. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for 30 seconds. mr. van hollen: so you see the pattern here, during the clinton administration economic growth booming, 20 million jobs created, dung the eight years of the bush administration net loss 653,000 jobs. we need to continue to invest in this country and make sure that the entrepreneurs of this country can continue to thrive. we need to do this in a balanced waand i would point out that the folks who said that the republican plan this republican plan debate would increase jobs are the same people who predicted that the bush tax cuts
would create jobs. that's the blue line is the prediction of the heritage foundation about what that would happen. the red is the reality. if we want to create jobs and reduce the deficit, we ne to do it in a balanced way. that's what the fiscal commission said, that's what the democratic plan does. we urge everyone respectfully to vote no on the republican plan. it's the wrong choice fo america. and with that i yield a minute to the distinguished democratic leader, ms. pelosi. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. pelosi: thank you very much, mr. speaker. i thank the gentleman for yielding. i thank him for bringing a budget proposal to the floor today that is a statement of our national values, about what we care about, investing in our children, honoring our seniors, growing, creating jobs, growing the econo, strengthening the middle class. thank you, mr. van hollen, for your great leadership in that regard.
mr. speaker, today we are taking a vote that is very, very important for the health and security of american seniors. a great deal is a stake. and i'm just going to focus on one part of this republican budget. i want to say to my republican colleagues, do you realize that your leadership is asking to you cast a vote today to abosh medicare as we know it? because that is a vote that we have. this is not about an issue, this is about a value, this is about an ethic. medicare is a core value of our social compact with the american people. yet this budget shreds that contract which is part of the strength of our country. theepublican proposal breaks the promise that our country has made to our seniors. that after a lifetime of work they will be able to depend on
dicare to protect them in retirement. this plan, the republican plan, ends medicare as we know it and dramatically reduces benefits for seniors. it forces them to pay more -- to buy their insurance companies from health insurance companies where the average senior will be forced to pay twice as much for half the benefits. i want to repeat that. it forces -- the republican plan forces seniors to buy their insurance from health insurance companies where the average senior wille forced to pay twices much for half the benefits. as much as $20,000 per year more for some seniors. this plan has the wrong priorities for our seniors and for all americans. the republican budget, just remember these three things, ends medicare as we know it, gives big tax breaks and subsidies, tens of billions of dollars to big oil.
this budget reduces medicaid for our seniors in nursing homes, sending them away from nursing homes whi it gives tax breaks to companies that send jobs overseas. this budget hurts our children's education. in fact, it increases the cost of higher education for nearly 10 million of our young adults while it gives tax breaks to america's wealthiest families. that's just not fair. it is just not the american way. here we areyesterday we observed the 100th day of the republican majority icongress. in that 100 days not one job has been created, not one job agenda is in the works. and what are we doing? we are here to abolish medicare instead. i've heard our colleagues say that the budget deficit is immoral. it's been immoral for the eight years of the bush administration
and didn't hear anybody say boo while we were giving tax cuts to the rich, having two wars unpaid for and giving tax -- prescription drug bills to the private sector. democrats are committed to reducing the deficit, we have demonstrated that we can during the clinton administration and we will. we are committed to strength being -- strengthening the middle class, to growing our economy as we reduce the deficit and to creating jobs. the republican budget fails to do that and the republican budget will not have democratic support. we are here as one of the previous speakers said, now is the time, now is the time to preserve medicare and democrats will. i urge a no vote on the republican plan. thank you. the chair: the gentlewoman's time has expired. -- the gtlelady's time has expired.
the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. ryan: mr. chairman, at this time i'd like to yield myself the remainder of the time and address the house from the well. the chair: theentleman is recognized. mr. ryan: first of all, mr. chairman, i want to thank our staffs. the democratic staff and the republican staff for all of their hard work in getting us to this moment. i want to ask my colleagues a question. want to ask the american people a question. you know, i remember one of the worst moments i had in congress was the financial crisis of 2008. seems like it was yesterday. we had the treasury secretary, we had the federal reserve chairman coming here talking about crisis. talking abo bank collapses. and what came out of that was really ugly legislation that we passed in a bipartisan basis but no one enjoyed. that crisis caught us by surprise. it was unpredictable. we didn't see it coming. let me ask you this. what if your president and your
member of congress saw it coming? what if they knew why it was happening, when it was going to happen and, more importantly, they knew what to do to stop it and they had time to stop it but they didn't because of politics? what would you think of that person? mr. chairman, that is where we are right now. this is the most predictable economic crisis we've ever had in the history of this country. and yet we have a president who is unwilling to lead, we have too many politicians weared about the next election and -- worried about the next election and not worried about the next generation. every politician in this town, every politician in this town knows we have a debt crisis. they know that we are in danger. we cannot avoid this choice to govern -- choice. to govern is to choose.
we are making a choice even if we don't act and that's the ong choice. in the words of abraham lincoln, we cannot escape history, we of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves . will we be remembered as the congress that did nothing as the nation sped toward a presprentble debt crisis and irreversible decline? or will it instead be remembered as a congress that did the hard work of preventing that csis? the one that chose this path to prosperity. this path to prosperity chts a different course. it gets us off this wrong track. it achieves fourbjectives. number one, grow the economy and get people back to work. number two, fulfill the mission of health and retirement -- fulfill the mission of health and retirement security.
we don't want to ration medicare, we don't want to see medicare go bankrupt, we want to save medicare. number three, repair the social safety net. get it ready for the 21st century. we don't want a welfare system that encourages people to stay on welfare, we want them to get back on their feet and into flourishing, self-sufficient lives. so let's reform welfare for people who need it and let's end it for corporate welfare for people who don't need it. number four, l's do the work of lifting this crushing burden of debt from our children. this is what we achieve. we have a choice of two futures. but we have to make the right choice. we must not leave this nation -- lead this nation into decline. we must not be the first generation in this country to leave the next generation worse
off. decline is antitheticalo the american idea. america is a nation conceived in liberty, dedicated to equality and defined by limitless opportunity. equal opportunity, upward mobility, prosperity, this is what america is all about. in all chapters of human history, there has never been anything quite like america. this budget keeps america exceptional. it preserves its promise for the next generation. colleagues, this is our defining moment. we must choose this path to prosperity. i yield. >> buck mckeon discusses the
military budget. the u.s. role in libya, iraq, in afghanistan, the impending changes in leadership, and the national security team. "newsmakers" tonight at 6:00 p.m. eastern. on thursday, treasury secretary timothy geithner said that he is confident that congress will raise the debt ceiling because lawmakers recognize the consequences of not doing it. the debt ceiling will be reached next month and congressman -- congress will bring it up. the secretary was followed by henry waxman added day-long economic forum in washington, d.c. this is just over 45 minutes.
>> is a great pleasure to be here. >> happy to be challenged. >> will we get a budget deal done? >> that is an excellent question. i think that will be dominant economic policy challenge for the united states if you look at the next several years. we spent the last two years preventing a great depression, laying the foundation for economies to start growing again, cleaning up a financial mess. just reached agreement last week on a way to start to reduce spending in part of the budget.
this is the time where, for the sake of the economy overall, we need to shift attention to building a political strategy to lock in financial reform to restore sustainability to the u.s. fiscal position. it is important to do that because you need to give investors, businesses, individuals confidence that the political leadership in this country can do that, that we can go back to living and our means. any to lock in a multi-year programs of the people can begin to adjust. even though these deficits are unsustainable and they are very high in historical terms, they are much more manageable challenges than many countries face and is completely within the capacity of the united states to lock in reforms of which are now that the economy can handle, can absorb without putting undue burden on middle- class americans and without undoing basic commitments to
give seniors access to health care or a guaranteed pension benefit. those are things we can do. but you have to start now. you have to lock in a set of reforms. you want to get congress to put constraints on itself that will force the reduction deficits substantial enough, deep enough that we cannot just stabilizing our debt burden, but bring it down over time. we have very different ideas about how to do this, what the right thing to do for the economy is. it is important for those who look at the economy to understand this. when you have the leadership in congress both increasing the same basic target for deficit reduction, roughly $4 trillion over 10 years or 12 years, so that our deficit falls below 3% of gdp, which is below what we
call primary balance, which is a level that you need to start to pay down the debt burden, when both sides embrace that and your debate is about how to do it, you have made the fundamental shift that is very important. that makes it hard for future president and future congresses to decide that you can live with the risk of higher deficits in the future. in need to take that off of the table for the sake of the economy as a whole. in the two lockean reforms to but -- you need to lockean reforms to give people confidence. i think we're in a much better -- you need to lock in reforms to give people confidence. a think we're in a much better position, politically, economically, to make progress, a better position than we have
been in the last two years and, in many ways, then we have been in the last decade. >> we will get too complicated politics in a minute. in terms of the market, the two strategies that picco announced -- i wonder if, in the light of that statement, that you feel there's some pressure in the markets to get a solution and that this may also have a constructive influence in the discussions in washington. >> if you look at the market's overall and how people feel about the world now, i think there are two things that are evident. one is, despite the risks in oil, despite the financial challenges still in europe, despite the tragedy in japan, despite the headlines the script for recovery, would you still see is gradual healing, a gradual strengthening and confidence that the world economy will increase at a gradual rate. as that happens, which you see is the encouraging signs of people willing to go out and invest again, employment growth
increasing, people taking more risk again. that is a sign of improvement, of healing, and it is a necessary condition for healing. you also see a lot of confidence in markets that the american political system will be able to get our fiscal path on a sustainable position. if you look at what we pay to borrow, the world basically believes that our problems are more manageable and that our system will solve it. but we have to make sure that we are learning that confidence every day, but hoping it is the same. we have to act to justify it. it is important to the health of our economy that we find a way to lock our political leadership into instead of constraining it to demonstrate to people that we can live within our means.
you heard the president say yesterday, if you are from the progressive side or to the left side of the political spectrum, you understand this is the essential because everything that democrats care about, the capacity to invest in education, make sure the government can support innovation, rebuilding our infrastructure, meeting commitments to the elderly or to the poor and disabled, those things required demonstrating we can live within our means. you can demonstrate that, you, bob -- if you cannot demonstrate that, you will lose the capacity to finance those things. but we want to make sure that ought people on the right understand that we can achieve this restoration of ballast water fiscal position without abandoning the key elements.
our safety belt is dramatically thinner and more narrow than what exists in most of europe. we have a much smaller commitment in that context than is true in many other major economies. we can afford to sustain that commitment. we have to reform how we use health care and other changes that we ought to make. they are difficult changes, but they are within our capacity to solve. it is absolutely important to do. it is not just because of the market. it is the right thing for the economy and that will guide is. >> there is a core constituency on the right, loosely defined, but that is absolutely, fundamentally opposed to increase spending and want to cut back on government. >> opposed to increasing spending. that is right. " yes. how is the administration going to handle this upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling? it is akin to something around $50 billion. there is a core group of american people who will not support that.
>> we are unique among nations and which congress has imposed upon itself the obligation to raise the limit beyond what we can borrow. congress give itself this other separate vote periodically, which they regret, because it is painful and difficult to do. but they will do it. they understand that you cannot take any risk. there is no conceivable way this country, this city, this government can court that basic risk. it would be irresponsible to do so. and you cannot take it too close to the edge. the leadership met yesterday morning and see what they say in public -- of course, will we recognize that america will meet its obligations.
but we want to take advantage of this moment to try to, in a sense, lock everybody into a physical world, the constraints, that over a number of years, we can bring our fiscal position down to a sustainable position. we will do everything we can to maximize -- we can build a political coalition that will make that possible. they will not take this and they cannot take this too close to the edge. it would be irresponsible to do so. i think they understand that, to. >> but can the republican leadership deliver the votes? >> they have to. of course there will. i can -- of course, they will. after the election, when they took the majority, they knew it would be hard for them, but
they knew they had to do it and they need help from us. they recognize that. >> why did not the president come behind the bipartisan deficit commission panel that actually produced quite a sensible and credible plan for reducing the deficit? the markets responded rapidly. he seems to have waited a long time. >> i do not agree with that. i am not the best person to rest on the timing, but let's go back in the history. the president set this up of around 15 months ago. they put out, i agree with you, a very balanced, elegant, very politically elegant design last december. our judgment is that that will be the foundation for the debate in the united states. the president initially gave it
the qualified embrace. but we spent the last four months or three months looking through -- you know, he is the president -- looking through how you can do that in a detailed way in a way that you can legislate. we saw him yesterday embrace that basic structure. >> there are some few changes in the basic balance, but it has core principles and basic foundation. now that we have the budget for the rest of this fiscal year, which has only five months left, now that we have that done, it is the right time to shift the focus for the long term. >> "the financial times" does believe in interactive journalism. i will open up to questions from the audience. if you would like to just put up your hand, please do not make a statement.
it has to be a question. sent to you are. -- say who you are. that would be good. the gentleman in the front. >> klaus ziegler of german television. one of the key elements to create more jobs seems to be doubling export. how successful have you been in the last year? if you look at the exchange rate of the dollar now, is this the right way to double exports? how successful have you been in the last year? >> u.s. export growth has actually been very rapid and pretty encouraging. when you think about the u.s. economy and you look past the trauma caused by this crisis and all the damage caused by the crisis in the united states and look at what is happening in the economy as a whole, it is pretty encouraging. you have seen strong growth in you have seen strong growth in